Digital skills fundamental to facilitate integration of migrants in host countries
On January 14th 2020, Enaip Veneto participated in the conference Building a Whole-of-Society Approach to Emerging Migration and Integration Challenges at the OECD Centre. The conference tackled emerging challenges such as changing labor markets, technological advances, forced displacement and population dynamics.
The labor market is changing fast: 14% of jobs across the OECD face a high likelihood of automation and another 32% are likely to experience significant change over the next 10 to 20 years. Surprisingly enough, concerns about massive technological unemployment have not materialized, employment rates are high in many countries, and digital-intensive sectors contribute to job creation.
Digital literacy and digital skills have indeed become crucial in today’s society. In this context, the OECD conference was an opportunity to highlight innovative projects promoting integration through the acquisition of skills requested by the industry 4.0. Acquiring digital skills to enter the job market was central to programs like Power Coders. Powercoders is a Swiss coding academy targeting refugees. The Academy mission is to make people independent, reduce social welfare costs while fighting the shortage of talent in the IT-industry. Companies like Adobe, UBS, Swiss Post, Swiss Life and Swisscom are all supporting the initiative. Powercoders offers a 13-week IT bootcamp followed by an internship of 6 to 12 months to eventually be hired. Powercoders has run programs in Bern, Zürich, Basel and Lausanne and is now expanding abroad with a first pilot in Istanbul and a next international intake starting early 2020 in Turin, Italy.
The Swiss case was not alone: in the past a training course was also set up in Rome offering refugees, asylum seekers and Italian citizens in economic difficulty the chance to learn how to code and hopefully change their future.
Not only are digital skills fundamental to facilitate integration in host countries, but also to reintegrate returnees in their countries of origin. Sustainable integration also seems to happen through digital skills. In Nigeria for example, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been partnering since December 2019 with Google Nigeria to conduct IOM’s first Digital Skills Training for returnees and potential migrants in Benin City, Edo State and Ikeja, Lagos State. Alex Cole, the Support Officer of IOM Nigeria Programme explained “The digital skills training will help improve the participants’ use of digital skills to contribute to their economic growth as entrepreneurs, thereby further filling in critical gaps in the labour market, fitting their businesses within existing supply chains, and invariably contributing to development” .
Creating ICT professionals, regardless of their status, seems to be the way to make our societies thrive.